Company Blog

Here we are again! Chimney fire “season”.

Two common causes for these fires occurring more often in late December and early January:

  • Burning of wrapping paper and old trees after Christmas.
    – Burning materials aside from the designated fuel can result in a devastating chimney fire, but in reality, even apparently safe burning can result in such an irritating inconvenience.
  • Lack of service (routine, regular chimney sweeping).
    – Our tendency for procrastination puts off annual service and then (at the last minute before the need for holiday fires) there’s no way to get an appointment and we think, “well, we really haven’t used it THAT much. It’ll probably be ok…..”


Anatomy of a Chimney Fire

Anytime wood burns, it creates by-products of combustion. These materials include smoke, soot, carbon monoxide, and creosote. The build-up of creosote is responsible for chimney fires. Creosote can be black or brown in color and flakey or slick in texture. Any combination of traits is highly flammable. With every fire in the fireplace or stove, creosote condenses along the interior of the chimney, building to increasingly dangerous levels. A stray spark or ember, from burning wrapping paper for example, can easily ignite the creosote, turning an innocent, homely fire in your fireplace into a catastrophe.

Creosote burns at 2000 degrees Fahrenheit, which is four to five times hotter than traditional wood fires. This extreme heat and the other chemical traits of creosote make these fires very difficult to extinguish quickly. Resulting damage can include melted mortar, cracked bricks, cracked flue tiles and exposed woodwork in the house. Once the woodwork catches fire, the house could very well burn to the ground, costing thousands of dollars in damage and potentially injuring or killing people inside the house.

While chimney fires often create noteworthy displays of light and explosions, they can also be secretive and slow-burning, causing damage without alerting anyone. A chimney sweep will look for signs of a chimney fire, including smoke leaking through the masonry materials, honeycomb textured creosote, discolored chimney components, and heat damaged roofing. Generally, chimney fires will leave severe damage in their wake and require extensive repairs. Sometimes it could even require entire chimney rebuilds, in order for the chimney to function safely again. These are not inexpensive repairs, so avoiding chimney fires would be a worthy goal.

Fortunately, chimney fires are, for the most part, preventable.

  • First, current fire safety standards mandate an annual chimney sweep, which involves the removal of built-up creosote from the interior of the chimney.
    – For fireplaces and stoves that experience heavy use, experts recommend more frequent sweeps, if need is indicated.
  • Second, burning the proper fuel for the fireplace or stove goes a long way toward reducing creosote buildup in the first place.
    – Burning wood that has been properly seasoned cuts down on creosote buildup, as well as burning more hardwoods than softwoods. Avoid burning freshly cut wood – like an old Christmas tree – and any kind of papers or decorations, which burn very hot and can emit sparks and embers.

For more information on preventing chimney fires, visit our Company Blog page. In the search box on that page, type “chimney fire”. That will get you started.

To schedule a routine chimney sweep in Upstate South Carolina, contact Blue Sky Chimney Sweeps.

Winter is coming! Who knew?

Well, of course, we all did, but human nature is such that most of us will “put off until tomorrow” what we could do today. That’s just the way it is. You know it; we know it, and it’s ok.

So here we are staring cold weather in the face and we still haven’t done the deed. We haven’t gotten the chimney, fireplace, wood stove or gas logs ready for the burning season. What to do?

Just breathe.

First thing is — know that short of a miracle or somebody’s sick family (causing them to have to reschedule), you’ll be waiting a few weeks for an appointment if you want your service taken care of by more than a seasonal part-timer. Now that’s not necessarily a bad thing, because the good companies will have a plan for this. They will work to move you forward to a sooner spot with the first schedule change that allows an opportunity to do so. We certainly do!

Next thing is – if a company is what you want in a service company, take their first available appointment spot. Even though it’s a longer wait than you want, just “bite the bullet” and take it. You might get a call the same day to move you up. It’s been known to happen. Schedules are notoriously fluid. Things happen all the time that make folks change their appointments around. We moved one fine fellow 3 times in one day!

Last thing to remember – It rains. Yep — with cold Winter weather come dreary, rainy days. Along with that rain — there are complications.

  • Rain and metal roofs don’t mix. It’s dangerous.
  • Thunderstorms and roof work don’t mix. That’s dangerous, too.
  • Rain in SC makes mud. We don’t do mud in your house.

Now if the rain is a slight on-and-off drizzle, we can handle that (unless you have a metal roof). We have procedures (and equipment) to handle a bit of damp (booties for our feet and runners & dropcloths for our stuff). But if it’s gullywashing, we will likely need to reschedule your appointment. And if we have to reschedule, we do everything we can (even work longer days and maybe an occasional Saturday) to get you rescheduled ASAP!

Extended Hours

Speaking of Saturdays – no, we don’t usually work Saturdays. Right now, the CSIA certified techs we have (and we like our techs because they are really good and we like to keep them happy) prefer not to work Saturdays. They have families and that’s where they usually are on Saturdays – with their wives and children — making their families strong. However, as mentioned, they will make exceptions when we absolutely have no other choice than a Saturday to get our weather-disrupted appointments managed.

So make a note –

  • Call now – the sooner you book an appointment, the sooner we can move you forward.
  • Secure a spot on our schedule – with that appointment comes a promise to get your service done as soon as we possibly can.
  • Try to be patient — Please know that we will be working as hard as we can to get your hearthside ready.

We know that life in the Winter is better with fire and we are striving to help you keep it in its rightful place in your home! We sincerely wish you and your family a Great Winter Season!
~the Staff of Blue Sky Chimney Sweeps|Bless Your Hearth!